Minnesota commission approves 300 MW of wind and solar projects

The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission at its May 28 meeting approved a 200-MW wind project and a series of solar projects that come to 100 MW in total, according to a commission agenda for that meeting.

Freeborn Wind Energy LLC had applied for a Certificate of Need for the 200-MW Freeborn Wind Project in Freeborn County. The agenda shows that project as approved.

Also, Aurora Distributed Solar LLC had applied for a site permit for the 100-MW (ac) Aurora Distributed Solar Energy Project at up to 24 locations in Minnesota. The agenda shows that permit was granted with unspecified conditions.

Written versions of commission decisions are usually issued a few days after the actual meeting where the verbal decisions are made.

Freeborn Wind is an affiliate of Invenergy Wind Development LLC that was established to develop, own and operate the Freeborn Wind Project, a 200-MW Large Wind Energy Conversion System (LWECS) to be situated on an approximately 40,000-acre site located 1.5 miles east of Glenville in Freeborn County. The Freeborn Wind Project qualifies as “eligible energy technology” for the purposes of satisfying the Minnesota Renewable Energy Standard (RES).

The Aurora Distributed Solar project would provide solar energy to meet Xcel Energy’s (NYSE: XEL) needs for additional capacity in the 2017-2019 timeframe. As a result of a competitive resource acquisition process to select resources to meet Xcel Energy’s identified need, the commission approved a power purchase agreement for the project. The project, as proposed, would include installation of photovoltaic (PV) modules mounted on a linear axis tracking system and a centralized inverter or inverters at each facility. Each facility would connect to a separate Xcel Energy substation at the distribution level which is intended to increase reliability, minimize generation losses associated with longer transmission interconnections, and minimize lead-times and interconnection costs compared to transmission interconnections.

Aurora has identified 24 facility locations where the necessary PV equipment and associated facilities would potentially be installed. Aurora stated that it does not anticipate constructing at all 24 locations, but will determine the final number and combination of facilities, up to 100 MW (ac), to be constructed during the final design of the project. Final design will be informed by site-specific conditions determined through engineering studies, environmental survey results, and interconnections details. The Aurora Project is scheduled to be placed in service by the end of 2016 with the flexibility to bring a portion online in 2015 to meet demand and construction schedules.

Aurora Distributed Solar is a wholly owned subsidiary of Enel Green Power North America.

About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.